Rajon Rondo's Return to Relevancy
Admit it: before the season even began, you had already given up on Rajon Rondo.
I mean, why wouldn't you have? The past two years for him have been down right tumultuous, as his statistical output was waning right alongside his ever-lowering morale.
Capped off by an ugly divorce with the Dallas Mavericks last season, there was a growing concern regarding Rondo's future as a starting point guard, let alone a functioning team player.
Then, of all places, he landed with the Sacramento Kings under the tutelage of George Karl. It's too early to know if their player-coach relationship will pan out, but they're off to a respectable start.
Believe it or not, Rondo is leading the league in categories other than triple-doubles. Rondo is the leader in average Touches (97.9), Passes Made (74.8), and is second in Assist Points Created (22.5) and Potential Assist (17.3) according to NBA.com's Player Tracking. This data shows Rondo's massive involvement within the Kings offensive flow and as a result has shined in the assists category.
Rondo is currently riding a five-game streak of at least 10 assists in which he is averaging a whopping 14 assists per game. However, it is important to note that he's been on the active binge while playing 45.5 minutes per game, a trend that will eventually be tempered down when backcourt mate Darren Collison returns from injury.
Rondo's historic 37-game streak of at least 10 assists was accomplished with an average of 37.8 minutes played per game, so even if his minutes are shaved by 8 or 10, he will have a shot at extending his current streak.
Gettin' Down With Boogie
Teaming up with fellow Kentucky alumnus and bonafide beast, DeMarcus Cousins, was probably the best thing that could've happened to Rondo.
Cousins and Rondo have quietly formed one of the more dangerous duos in the league, bringing noticeable excitement back to Sleep Train Arena up in Sactown. Over an active three-game win streak, they are averaging a combined 51 points, 20 rebounds, and 16 assists per game. During that span, 40% of Rondo's 43 assists have been converted by Cousins, who is looking a lot like Peja Stojakovic after draining 9 out of 15 three pointers (8 of which were assisted by Rondo).
By now the whole world knows that the success of the Kings rests on the broad shoulders of Cousins, and so far Rondo has been instrumental for Cousins' red-hot start. Complementing each other's strengths, Cousins and Rondo look to continue their strong chemistry together as they embark on a five-game road trip.
Colliding With Collison?
During the first six games of the season, Rondo averaged 5.8 assists in 27.1 minutes while co-point guard Collison averaged 5.2 assists in 30.7 minutes,
Sharing is caring, but the timeshare has not boded well in terms of the Kings' win-loss record, as they were 1-5 during those games.
Which is more important for the success of the Kings: offense or defense? When comparing the two, Collison beats out Rondo in average Offensive Rating by a margin of 19.7 points, but on the flip side, Rondo beats out Collison in average Defensive Rating by a margin of 9.8 points.
It will be interesting to see how Rondo's groove could be shaken up when Collison expects to return for Wednesday's game versus the Atlanta Hawks. Will coach Karl return to a timeshare approach for his point guards? Or will he ride the hot hand and allow Rondo to lead the way?
As wonderful as Rondo has been, there is also reason to believe that his recent success has occurred out of necessity as opposed to preference. Rondo still exhibits a high turnover rate and poor shooting from both the field and the free throw line, which could in turn limit his opportunities moving forward.
Regardless, Rondo is once again being viewed as one of the league's most dominant assist men. It's great to see such a talent showing that he hasn't lost a step and, more importantly, that he is motivated to win again. As Kings' play-by-play announcer Grant Napear would say: "If you don't like that, you don't like NBA basketball!"